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Lesson 18_ Narrative _ Aegean Prehistoric Archaeology

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  Lesson 18: Narrative The Nature and Extent of Neopalatial Minoan Influence in the Aegean andEastern Mediterranean Worlds 1. The Beginning of the Neopalatial Period on Crete (ca. 1750/1720 B.C?) 2. Minoan Neopalatial Expansion in the Southern Aegean (MM III Through LM IB (ca. 1750/1720 – 1490/1470B.C.?)The CycladesThe Dodecanese and the Western Coast of Asia MinorThe Greek Mainland (especially the Peloponnese)3. The Nature of Minoan Power in the Aegean during the Neopalatial Period 4. The Explosion of the Theran V olcano (ca. 1625 B.C.?) 5. The LM IB Destruction Horizon Across Crete (ca. 1490/1470 B.C.?) 6. The Mycenaeans at Knossos (LM II-IIIA2 Early; ca. 1490/1470-1385/1375 B.C.?) 7. CreteThe “Warrior Graves” of the Knossos AreaThe Introduction of Mainland Pottery ShapesThe First Finds of Amber on Crete A General Air of Militarism at Knossos8. Mainland Greece9. The Craftsmen Who made the Jewelery, Metal Vessels, and Weapons of the LM/LH II-IIIA1 PeriodsThe Destruction of Knossos (ca. 1385/1375 B.C.?)Mycenaean Kingdoms on Crete Following the Destruction of Knossos (ca. 1385/1375 B.C.) Aegean Connections with Egypt in the Amarna Period (ca. 1360-1340 B.C.)10. The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur The Beginning of the Neopalatial Period on Crete (ca. 1750/1720 B.C.?) In MM IIIA, new palaces were built at the sites of Knossos, Kommos, Mallia, and Zakro. This building orrebuilding activity defines the beginning of the Neopalatial (or New Palace) period on Crete. At Phaistos, the OldPalace, destroyed like those at Knossos and Kommos at the end of MM IIB period, does not appear to have beenreplaced until LM I, possibly not until as late as LM IB; the administrative center of the Mesara throughout theNeopalatial era, at least after the destruction and abandonment of major portions of the palace at Kommos inearly LM IA, was the site of Ayia Triadha.Top Minoan Neopalatial Expansion in the Southern Aegean (MM III Through LM IB (ca. 1750/1720 –1490/1470 B.C.?) The Cyclades  A  EGEAN  P REHISTORIC  A  RCHAEOLOGY  This site contains information about the prehistoric archaeology of the Aegean.  Minoan influence had been fairly strong in the Cyclades since the beginning of the Protopalatial (or Old Palace)period on Crete (MM IB), that is, since the beginning of the Second City at Phylakopi on Melos (Phase C inRenfrew’s revised phasing of the site) and the re-occupation of Ayia Irini on Keos (Phase IV), which had beenabandoned since the  floruit   of the “Lefkandi I” or “Kastri group” culture (Phase III) at the end of the EC II period.In the Neopalatial period, Minoan influence becomes even more marked at such sites as Phylakopi (Melos),Paroikia (Paros), Ayia Irini (Keos), and Akrotiri (Thera). The vast majority of the evidence for this influenceconsists of pottery, whether Minoan imports or local imitations of typical Minoan shapes and decorative patternsin wares such as Cycladic Matt-painted. There are also, however, other indications of this influence. A fragmentary Linear A tablet has been found both at Phylakopi and at Ayia Irini. Other types of inscription inLinear A have been found at these sites as well as at Akrotiri, while signs incised on objects from Kythera andNaxos have been claimed, though not yet confirmed, to be yet further examples of Linear A. A typically Minoan bronze statuette of a “saluting” male comes from Ayia Irini, as do fragments of over fifty large-scale terracottastatues of women dressed in the Minoan fashion which were displayed in the town’s temple (see lesson onCycladic and Mycenaean Religion). The frescoes of the Flying Fish and of the Lilies from Phylakopi and of the BlueMonkeys from Akrotiri would not be out of place on Crete itself. At Phylakopi, fragments of the Flying Fish muralhad fallen into one of two rooms in the same block which were furnished with central piers and which somescholars are prepared to accept as Cycladic versions of Minoan pillar crypts. There are several legends or mythspreserved in Classical sources about Minos, the king of Crete, ridding the Aegean of pirates and installing his sonsas viceroys in the islands. Perhaps the most striking of these is a story told by Bacchylides, an early 5th century lyric poet from Keos, which concerns the founding of a colony on that island by one of Minos’ sons. Thetemptation to connect this mythical foundation with the site of Ayia Irini is almost overwhelming. Many of thearchitectural features encountered in the buildings so far excavated at Akrotiri appear to be derived from Minoanarchitecture: pier-and-door partitions, “horns of consecration”, the “lustral basin” in Xeste 3, stone staircasesleading to upper floors, second-story toilets such as the one in Room 4 of the West House, but, strangely, as yet noexamples of light-wells. At the same time, Cycladic culture is not totally overwhelmed. Certain features occur on island sites which are notparalleled in Crete and which suggest that there was still a Cycladic “cultural identity. Thus, although the straight-sided (Vapheio) cups and semiglobular cups inspired by Minoan prototypes are common in the Cycladicrepertoire, panel cups and carinated bowls are the truly standard open shapes of the later Middle Cycladic andearly Late Cycladic periods. Cycladic Matt-painted pottery flourishes and Melian bird jugs are imported into the Argolid as well as into the palace at Knossos itself. Indeed, Melian imports to Knossos are known from as early asMM IB (= Phylakopi II.1). Both Ayia Irini and Phylakopi are fortified settlements in the early Late Bronze Age, while contemporary fortifications are certainly exceptional and perhaps altogether lacking on Crete. Although thearchitecture of House A at Ayia Irini, probably identified correctly as the residence of the town’s ruling authority,has a number of features likely to have been inspired by Cretan prototypes (e.g. frescoes, multiple stairways,elaborate drainage facilities, and a paved though not colonnaded light well), it lacks such distinctively Minoanelements as pier-and-door partitions or a “lustral basin”. Theran fresco art is also noticeably different from that which characterizes contemporary Crete (see lesson on Thera).Schachermeyr has theorized that Cycladic towns of the early LBA such as Akrotiri, Ayia Irini, and Paroikia werecomparable to medieval and renaissance maritime republics such as Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi, Lübeck, andHamburg in being small but independent political entities having extensive commercial contacts. Cherry, Davis,and Schofield have drawn attention to the especially intense Minoan contacts with the western Cyclades (Thera,Melos, Keos) and have suggested that a major trade route (the “Western String”) ran from Crete to the Mainland by way of these islands. Through this, the Minoans acquired silver and lead from the mines of southeastern Atticain the vicinity of Laurion and Thorikos.The site of Kastri on Kythera differs from sites on the remaining islands of the western and central Aegean in that  it was a Minoan colony (that is, a settlement populated largely, perhaps exclusively, by Minoans and theirdescendants) rather than a Cycladic settlement heavily influenced by Minoan art and culture and possibly including a small resident Minoan population. The recent excavation of an unusually richly furnished peak sanctuary on Kythera provides further evidence for the particularly heavy degree of Minoanization thatcharacterizes that island during the Neopalatial era; the only other peak sanctuary of Minoan type located outsideof Crete itself is the site of Troulli on Keos, a hilltop not far from the Minoanized seaside fortress of Ayia Irini.The Dodecanese and the Western Coast of Asia MinorIntensive Minoan contact with these areas is established beginning probably in MM IIIB, although possibly somewhat earlier on Carpathos and Rhodes and at Knidos and Miletus. The evidence for such contact consistslargely of pottery from Rhodes (Trianda, Ialysos), Carpathos, and Kos (Serraglio) in the Dodecanese and fromMiletus, Iasos, and Knidos on the coast of Asia Minor. Extensive architecture of the period preceding the end of LM IA has been exposed only at Trianda. At most of the rest of these sites, remains of this era are deeply buriedunder later occupational debris and lie very close to, if not actually below, the modern water table, thus renderingthe architecture effectively inaccessible. Minoan influence is relatively insignificant as far north as the Troad, to judge from the few Minoan imports into Troy. It is probable that the site at Trianda on Rhodes is an actualMinoan colony rather than a settlement of indigenous Rhodians within which lived a few Cretan migrants, and thesame may be true of the Serraglio on Kos. The situations at Miletus, Iasos, and Knidos, however, are altogetheruncertain because material of the later MBA and early LBA from these sites has thus far been published in only a very abbreviated fashion. In order to be able to evaluate the nature of Minoan “influence” on such sites, somequantitative estimates of the relative proportions of Minoan and Minoanizing material on the one hand and local western Anatolian material on the other is clearly required.The Greek Mainland (especially the Peloponnese) Abundant evidence for an expansion of Minoan influence on the southern Greek Mainland both spatially andquantitatively appears toward the end of the Middle Helladic period and is best examined area by area. It may beobserved at the outset that the evidence for direct Minoan influence in parts of the Mainland north of Attica isnegligible to non-existent. The fact that Minoan or Minoanizing artifacts, usually in the form of pottery, are foundfrom the very beginning of the MH period (= MM IA) in considerable quantities at coastal sites in Laconia (AyiosStephanos, probably Pavlopetri) and the Argolid (Asine, Kandia, Lerna) should also be kept in mind.  Messenia In this area, Minoan influence is most readily discernible in the adoption of the tholos as a tomb type already inthe late MH period, the earliest excavated example being that at Koryphasion. These early Messenian tholoi arealready of the Mainland/Mycenaean subterranean type but were in all likelihood inspired by late versions of theMinoan tholos of Mesara type, as well as by indigenous circular forms of tomb such as the tumuli of the MHperiod. A connection between such tumuli and the Mainland type of tholos is strongly suggested, for example, by the construction of an early Mycenaean tholos within the circumference of an earlier MH tumulus at the site of  Voidhokoilia. The largest of the three early Mycenaean tholoi at Peristeria bears two incised “masons’ marks” onthe ashlar masonry of its facade which some consider to be signs in the Linear A syllabary. Pottery stylistically assignable to MM IIIB/LM IA, either genuine Minoan and imported from Crete or Minoanizing, is found atKoryphasion and at several other sites in Messenia (e.g. Nichoria).  Laconia Evidence from both Crete and the site of Ayios Stephanos at the head of the Gulf of Laconia indicates that thegreen-flecked porphyry known as lapis    Lacedaemonius , available only in southern Laconia, was being sought by Minoan lapidaries (a {lapidary} is a craftsmen working in hard stones to produce items such as seals and vessels)  as early as early LM IA. In addition, there are grounds for believing that one or more Minoan potters might have been resident at Ayios Stephanos in the late MH (= MM IIIB) period, although it is not known whether suchartisans came from Crete itself or from the Minoan colony on Kythera. Two signs incised on an otherwisenondescript ground stone implement found in a surface level at Ayios Stephanos have also been tentatively identified as constituting a short Linear A inscription.  Argolid  Many of the artifacts found in the Shaft Graves of Circles A and B at Mycenae have been argued to be of Minoanmanufacture. This is most likely to be true of the inlaid daggers, of the silver, bronze, and stone vessels, and of theseals and signet rings. One of the bronze vessels from Shaft Grave IV even carries a two-sign inscription in Linear A (Karo 1930: no. 576). However, many of these objects are decorated with scenes which are not at all common ordo not occur at all in contemporary or earlier Minoan art. It has therefore been suggested that many of theseobjects were made by Cretan artists at the specific request of Mainland employers, in some cases in a materialsuch as gold which was plentiful at this time at Mycenae but rare on Crete. The peculiar combination of Mainlandsubject matter and/or raw material (in the case of gold) with Minoan style argues against the theory that many of the finds from the Shaft Graves are booty from Mycenaean piratic raids on Crete. Most of the hypothetical Minoancraftsmen working for the Shaft Grave princes will have been smiths who may have also produced, in addition to objets   d’art   made of precious materials, the large quantities of superior armaments found in their masters’ tombs.Some objects, such as the grave steles, may as well be the products of Mainland apprentices as of Minoan artisanstrained in Neopalatial workshops. As in the case of Ayios Stephanos, the Minoan craftsmen whose masterpiecesfurnished the Shaft Graves should probably be envisaged as resident aliens on the Greek Mainland. In aninteresting contrast with Messenia, which alone among other regions of the Greek Mainland has produced early Mycenaean goldwork fully comparable with that from the Shaft Graves, the ruling class of the Argolid does notseem to have adopted the tholos as a tomb form of its own until the later LH I period or even LH IIA, at least oneand perhaps as much as two or three generations after its appearance in Messenia.Top The Nature of Minoan Power in the Aegean during the Neopalatial Period To what extent is Thucydides’ report (I.4, that Minos established a sea-empire (thalassocracy) in the Aegean by  virtue of the strength of his fleet an accurate reflection of some Bronze Age historical reality? There is as yet noscholarly consensus on this issue although it has been the subject of a good deal of recent scholarship (e.g. Häggand Marinatos 1984). Only a few of the large number of significant questions which arise in this connection are briefly treated below:1.  If a Minoan thalassocracy like that described by Thucydides did exist, when did it flourish?  Minoan influence was felt strongly in much of the Aegean world throughout the palatial era (i.e. from ca. 1930 toca. 1500 B.C.) but in areas such as the coastal Peloponnese from as early as ca. 2050/2000 B.C. Although it is justpossible that Minoan political and/or military power could have been dominant in the Aegean for as long as fouror five centuries, indeed even for seven, most authorities who believe in an historical Minoan thalassocracy wouldplace it either in the Neopalatial period (ca. 1750-1500 B.C.) or in the brief period when a functioning palaceexisted only at Knossos under the domination of what most feel was a Mainland Greek dynasty or overlordship(ca. 1500-1375 B.C.) or conceivably during both periods.2.  Did the Minoans establish a network of colonies throughout the Aegean as one facet of their control over thearea?   Although such colonialism at first seems anachronistic in the Aegean of the second millennium B.C., it cannot be
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